Because I am a 25+ year veteran of enterprise software professional services and training, coworkers and customers often ask me what the benefits are of obtaining an official technical certification following a training course, a hands-on lab, or another continuing education course. I believe certifications teach the hands-on, tactical skills that many employers are looking for these days, and they also allow midcareer employees (the largest target audience for certifications) to enhance their resume, increase their confidence, grow their network, and update their skill set to help keep gainfully employed.
How certifications help employers
Because it is increasingly difficult to retain technically proficient employees, employers are investing in creative ways of finding and holding onto valuable technical employees. I liken this scenario to the Major League Baseball (MLB) farm system. As a result of the ever-changing technical landscape that we live in, employers are forced to bring on resources who may have solid technical skills in one area but need to develop or hone specific skills in other areas—often related to new technologies they are deploying. In the case of the MLB, the farm system allows teams to bring on more junior players, help them refine their skills, and move them up the system in preparation for the Major League. By investing in the certification and development of the “players,” you build a stronger bench of resources to move up within your organization.
How certifications help employees
Given the rapid pace of advancements in technology, individuals need to constantly update and upgrade their technical skills. The technology darling of today is soon the ugly duckling of tomorrow. The days of strictly being a COBOL (or, insert any recent programming language here) developer are over. In order to continue to progress professionally, workers need to continue to increase and improve their technical chops. That’s where certifications really come into play. Technical employees now have the ability to take a two-to-four day course followed by an exam and come out at the end of the week with a better understanding of a technology, a certification, and (hopefully) a badge—an outward sign to employers, customers, and the marketplace that they have a full understanding of the coursework or technology.
As the technical landscape continues to evolve, it has become increasingly clear that individuals need to continue to expand their technical expertise. Investing in technical development and proving understanding via a certification exam is a benefit to both employees and employers. As a 25+ year veteran, I highly recommend taking advantage of certification offerings from your technical partners, vendors, and emerging technologists.